The publication of the commentary on Song of Songs is a good opportunity to express my great thanks to Jesus Christ, my Redeemer and Lord. In addition to my desire, he also gave me the opportunity to write a commentary about all the bible books [in Dutch, the native language of the writer]. I see this as a great privilege and at the same time a great responsibility. It is up to the reader to examine the Scriptures to see if what is in the comments is in accordance with God’s thoughts (Acts 17:11). For the good that the reader discovers in it, the Lord Jesus deserves all honor.
I am also grateful to the Lord for the many who have been used by Him to contribute to a comment. It is impossible for me to mention the names from those from whom I have received help in writing a comment. I cannot imagine that a commentary can be written without the help of others. This help included, for example, a comprehensive explanation that someone wrote, which helped me to understand the text better. It may also be someone who has pointed out a detail to me with a suggestion for improvement. I am also grateful to all those who over the years have made publication in book form and digital possible. This also applies for those who helped in the translation of a commentary in a certain language.
The Lord has arranged things in the church in such a way that the members need each other to perform the task He has given each member. He will reward everyone who has made a contribution, in whatever form, for it. In mentioning names, I could just forget someone, but He doesn’t forget one.
I would like to make one exception: my wife Willy. I am particularly grateful to the Lord for her contribution:
Dear Willy, you have received a great empathetic capacity from the Lord. You have an eye for the many details the Lord has given in life, which make life so colorful and meaningful. I don’t have such an eye for that, but you have shown it to me and made it known to me by being who you are in your relationship with the Lord, with me, with our children, in-laws and grandchildren, the fellow believers, the people in the area where we live and in the many encounters elsewhere. In that way, you have made numerous contributions for applications of God’s Word in daily life that I have been able to incorporate in the comments. I thank the Lord from the bottom of my heart for the unity He has made of us in our differences.
Ger de Koning
Middelburg, June 2018
The basis for this commentary about Song of Songs are addresses that I was able to give in the period 2009-2013 in Schmalkalden, Germany. A first proposal for a topic for the addresses was marriage and relationships. Since I prefer a book of the Bible for a topic, I suggested to share thoughts about the book of Song of Songs. This Bible book is excellent for making applications on marriage and relationships.
I must honestly say that I found it quite a daring venture to give addresses about this Bible book. Song of Songs is a poetic book and I am not so poetic. When we read the book, we can think: ‘Do we as husband and wife live together like this? Do we as husband and wife talk about and to each other as it happens in this book? I love my wife a lot and try to make her see and hear that in my own way. But that is somewhat different from what is described in this book, or rather: being sung.
Yet we have these manifestations of love in God’s Word. It therefore has something to say to us. It is also true of this book of the Bible that it is inspired by God, because it is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2Tim 3:16-17).
This book is about love relationships, about relationships between husband and wife. We can apply that to our marriage. Many of it can also be applied to our family, but also to our relationships with our fellow believers, our brothers and sisters. From what we read in this book about love, we can therefore learn a lot about the way we look at each other, how we see each other and what we say to each other, in short how we deal with each other.
Introduction to Song of Songs
From Solomon we have three books in the Bible. Besides the book Song of Songs, he also wrote the books Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. In both books Solomon says something about a woman.
Solomon had a thousand wives (1Kgs 11:3), but the right wife, the wife with whom he could have a real relationship of love, was not there. He sought her ‘under the sun’, but had to come to the conclusion: “But I have not found a woman among all these” (Ecc 7:28). In Ecclesiastes life is only seen on a horizontal level. The preacher looks at and examines everything “under the sun” (Ecc 1:14). The conclusion of his research is that everything is vanity, empty. As long as a person seeks the fulfillment of his desires only under the sun – whether it be a woman or something else – his heart will find no true happiness. Solomon’s search for true love is therefore unsuccessful in the book Ecclesiastes.
But then we hear from his mouth in Proverbs: “An excellent wife, who can find?” (Pro 31:10a). Proverbs is the book where God’s light shines from the sanctuary on the way we go under the sun. In that book we hear something about what lives in Solomon’s heart about the woman he is looking for, how she should be. The answer to the question remains open, but his search has gained meaning because he now finds himself in the light of the sanctuary. He now knows what kind of wife he is looking for.
In Song of Songs he has found her. Song of Songs is as it were the holy of holies, where the origin lies of the intimate relationship between the groom and the bride. Solomon is so happy that he has found her, that he writes a song about her.
The book describes the development of the feelings of love between Solomon and a girl, his bride, for whom he conceived love. It is a declaration of love by Solomon at the beginning of a relationship he builds up with the girl.
Young lovers write each other. Once you are married, you live together and do not write to each other anymore. When my wife and I were still engaged, I did write letters to my fiancée. Some time ago, when my wife and I were talking about our letter writing in our engagement time, she said she would like to have another letter from me. We were married at that time for almost thirty-four years. I wrote her a letter about what she has meant to me all the time we have been married as a wife, as the mother of our children and as the grandmother of our grandchildren. I gave it to her on the day we were married for thirty-four years.
Women long for such expressions. It is good that a man regularly tells his wife what she means to him. Let him do that in his own way, as he is. It is also good when a wife asks her husband what she means to him.
It can also be added that it is good to tell our children and grandchildren from time to time that we love them and how happy we are that they belong to the family. We can make them feel that too, for example by taking the little ones on their laps and reading them to them. We can make the older children and grandchildren feel this by showing interest in their study or plans. These are expressions that we may need to learn, but it is important that we regularly “declare” our love to them.
But the declaration of love is not the only meaning of Song of Songs. In the prophetic application we see in Solomon a picture of the Lord Jesus and in the bride a picture of Jerusalem – or the faithful remnant – and that especially in the end times, that is the time of the great tribulation. That Solomon is a picture of the Lord Jesus is indicated by the Lord Himself when He says of Himself: “And behold, something greater than Solomon is here” (Mt 12:42b).
In Song of Songs there are many things that make clear how the remnant as the bride and the Lord Jesus as the Bridegroom are led to each other. This means that we have a lot of prophecy in this book. It tells us something about future events.
In addition to its literal and prophetic meaning, the book has a third meaning, which is its practical or spiritual application for us. We can apply the beautiful content of Song of Songs to our personal life of faith, to our relationship with the Lord Jesus. By extension, there are also applications to the relationships in our marriages and families and the relationship with our fellow believers. In this commentary the focus in the reflection on this ‘song of love’ is on this.